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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
The Observer

Belles begin home slate with Calvin

Saint Mary's opens its home season and conference schedule today against Calvin College. The schools enter today's game at opposite ends of the rebuilding process.Calvin is 0-2 after a pair of losses last week, but the team finished 9-3-2 in conference last year (12-6-2 overall), including a 1-1 tie and 1-0 win over Saint Mary's. Calvin graduated three all-conference seniors from that team, including Tricia Dyk. Dyk was all-MIAA each year at Calvin and was the league MVP in 2002.Saint Mary's is off to a school-best 3-0 start. Junior midfielder Jen Concannon was named the first MIAA player of the week over the weekend. Concannon scored two goals versus both SUNY-Brockport and Taylor. She leads the Belles with five goals on the season. Coach Peter Haring expects conference opponents to take note of Concannon's torrid play."I think that as the year goes on, especially in the conference season, opponents will know to look for her," Haring said. "That will open up opportunities for the rest of the offense. But if she can keep this pace up, she will have one of those golden seasons."Saint Mary's is well-rested. The Belles last played on Sept. 3 and should have fresh legs. Haring hopes that Saint Mary's will exploit its home field advantage."Our field is one of the nicer ones in the conference," Haring said. "We keep it well maintained during the season and off-season. We have a regular sized playing surface with the maximum length and width."At Taylor [last Wednesday] it was a much shorter game because they had a smaller stadium. We should benefit because with our offense we use the width of the field a lot."There won't be any grandiose speeches to commemorate the beginning of the Belles' home season. Saint Mary's prefers to focus on its play instead. "We're starting off our conference schedule and it's our first home game," Haring said. "With the start that we've had, we want to keep the same mentality without distractions." Our girls are playing a very consistent brand of defense and limiting the opportunities of our opponents' offensive side. If there are shots on goal, we want them to be a low percentage."Execution of these goals depends upon defensemen Carrie Orr, Katie Taylor and Shannon Culbertson. And the Belles will need another strong game from freshman goalkeeper Laura Heline as well. "[Heline] has been able to read the game really well and not give any easy goals away to opponents," Haring said. "The defense has been playing really strong. We want to keep our balance and our mindset."Saint Mary's plays Calvin College today at 4:00 p.m. at home.